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Easy As Pi: A Foray Into Baking A Home Media Centre

Easy as Pi: a foray into baking a home media centre

  • Blog

Introduction

Some of you may be aware of such a thing called a ‘Raspberry Pi’. For those who are not, the ‘Pi’ is a small computer designed as an entry into programming. The current generation has a 1.2 GHz quad-core CPU, 1Gb ram, Wifi, Blutooth, ethernet, HDMI, four USB 2.0 ports and uses Micro SD cards for storage. Not bad for just €40. The Raspberry Pi does have an OS that can be downloaded – Rasbian which is based on Linux. There are many other OS and stand-alone packages that can be installed such as media centres.

After extensive research I decided to install OSMC, a free, stand-alone media player written for the Pi.

Baking my Pi

  • Ingredients
  • Raspberry Pi 3 (additionally I bought a protective case for mine)
  • Micro USB power supply
  • 2Gb Micro SD card
  • USB Keyboard
  • USB Mouse
  • HDMI cable (connected to living room TV)
  • OSMC ISO Image
  • Win32 Disk Imager (freeware)
  • Laptop running Windows 8.1 (with micro SD Card reader)

Method

  1. Using the laptop running Win32 Disk Imager, copy the OSMC ISO image to the SD card.
  2. Remove the SD card from the PC and insert into the Pi.
  3. Plug in all the connectors (keyboard, mouse, HMDI) to the Pi.
  4. Switch on, sit back and prepare for media streaming.

Feeling deflated like a bad Soufflé

The Pi booted fine. After some auto-configuration I was taken to the manual set-up for OSCM. This allowed the configuration of the Wireless network and appearance. Then came the issues. In anticipation I’d created a ‘homegroup’ on the PC and shared the folders containing media I wished to stream. Try as I might, I could not get the Pi to read those folders. Infuriatingly, it could ‘see’ the laptop, but not the shared folders.

Additional ingredients:

  • Patience
  • Time
  • Large vocabulary of predominantly four-letter expletives

After more extensive research, a lot of ‘trial and error’ and probably too much swearing I learned that my mistake was creating the homegroup. So I switched this off and removed all the shares created. Then I reshared the folders I needed to ‘Everyone’ (read only access). In Windows 8.1 this has two steps. First I had to ‘right-click’ the folder and select Share with -> Specific people; select everyone and hit ‘share’. Then I had to ‘right-click’ select properties -> sharing tab -> Advanced sharing and again select everyone and share.

With baited breath I fired up the Pi and lo! I could now add all the shared folders as a file location in OSCM and stream the media wirelessly. Additionally there is an app for Android called ‘Yatse’ that allows me to control OSMC from my phone – browsing files, playing them etc. I also managed to successfully share from a hard drive connected directly to the router (NAS) removing the need for the laptop to be on to stream media. All in all a success only marred by Windows 8.1’s odd networking configurations.

The Raspberry Pi is neat piece of kit and highly versatile – do a Google search and you’ll see people have made Cloud servers, weather stations even a Pi-powered microwave! For me, my next project will be using RetroPi to create a Mame cabinet so I can play old arcade games with proper arcade sticks and buttons.

Written by Simon Lawrence

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